The head coach’s pleasure came from how Mississippi State bounced-back from a sizzling morning session with a productive late-afternoon. This was the third of August’s scripted double-duty days for Mullen and the Bulldogs, as well as mid-point of their week on the Farm.
The accelerated pace of practicing, as well as working in full pads, is giving State’s staff plenty of material for their reviews this week. And it is on the screen where Mullen notice anything or anyone standing out at this early stage.
Because as for seeing great things on the practice field so far? “Not really,” Mullen said.
“I like the attitude of the team. I look at it much more that way. Because you’re still in the learning curve of things. I don’t know if there’s anybody that’s impressed me, I’m looking at are they learning what to do right now.”
And learning is very much the order of the day, or days, for a touted freshman class with high expectations. Of course recruiting reputation has a way of evaporating during preseason heat. Mullen even remarked that on a freshman kickoff coverage team with “an average time was probably about a 5.9 forty. This isn’t the combine stuff, this is real football.”
His point though was even gifted rookies have to learn how to run at this level of practicing, much less playing. And a whole lot of stuff is being run at these freshmen. For that matter the veterans are also absorbing fresh aspects during two-a-days as installation practices continue, Mullen said.
“There’s still three or four more installations to put stuff in. at that point we’ll see how they (the freshmen) can come back and adjust to the speed and know what they’re doing when you put the whole package on.”
The whole package might get used, but not shown to the public, this Thursday with the first scrimmage of preseason. It’s closed, just as are all practices to media and fans alike. The next chance to discuss the results will be Saturday afternoon in fact.
“That’s our first scrimmage,” said Mullen. “We get to see where to tackle and who can make things happen in the stadium, in a live situation. There will be some things I’m looking for out a lot of younger guys, and I want to make sure our older guys are where we need them to be getting ready to build up to the season.”
No statistics will be published from the scrimmage, which is no big deal since so many will touch the ball in all sorts of situations. But, numbers more than a few would like to know will be the placekicking results. This job is entirely open with the departure of Evan Sobiesk, and coming out of spring it was hard to say anyone had a clear edge on anyone else.
It’s still too early now. “We’ve only done two competitive days really with the kickers,” Mullen said. “So it’s hard to see, they’re still getting into the groove of things. But all three of them (Devon Bell, Westin Graves, Bryce Brown) are competing for the job and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Media will speak with offensive players and coaches after Tuesday’s single practice; then with defensive players and coaches between Wednesday’s one workout. Mullen is relaxing the practice pace after three-straight double-days to prepare for the scrimmage.